I had a chance to talk to Josh Rawitch, Vice President of Communications for the Dodgers, about this intriguing shift in policy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As we all know, [the] world of information consumption is changing dramatically and as an organization, we recognize that many of you who are dedicated fans also have the ability to speak to other fans around the world,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Rawitch. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We want you to be as informed as possible and the best way to do that, as the mainstream media has known for centuries, is with access to those who make news and make decisions.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Dodgers first official engagement with the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leading bloggers was in April of 2008 when Rawitch hosted a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Blogger NightÃ¢â‚¬Â at a regular season game. The team provided a luxury box as the venue and offered an open forum with owner Frank McCourt, General Manager Ned Colletti and Special Advisor to the Chairman (and Dodger legend) Tommy Lasorda. The team followed up with a similar event in March 2009 at the new Camelback Ranch Spring Training facility and then again in May 2009 at the second Blogger Night at Dodger Stadium where Colletti and Executive Vice President of Creative and Communications Dr. Charles Steinberg answered questions from the bloggers in attendance.
It is inevitable that the Reds will do something like this. It may be years from now — the Reds aren’t the most progressive organization in baseball — but it will happen eventually. Things are just moving that way in the sports world. The Dodgers are simply ahead of the curve (actually, the Dallas Mavericks were first to this party).
Frankly, I’m not interested in being in the press box at Reds games. Sure, I could make my nightly recaps more detailed and interesting, I suppose, and there would be other benefits … but I like to cheer for the Reds. They’re my team! No cheering in the press box, you know.
In other ways, however, some access would help us provide better coverage of our favorite team for you guys. For example, when Bob Castellini took over as owner, Redleg Nation requested, and was promptly denied, access to Mr. Castellini’s first press conference by the gatekeeper, Rob Butcher (Reds Director of Media Relations). That’s fine; I understood their position at the time (what if a blogger shows up in their pajamas???), and you can’t just allow any yahoo off the street into your press conferences.
But the Dodgers have felt the winds of change, and they’ve figured out a way to determine which bloggers have earned the right to that access:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a very exciting buzz online about extending our reach into the world of social media. As long as our fans are informed and talking about the Dodgers and sharing their passion for the team – the highs and lows – it has the chance to be a really good thing. In addition, it connects the Dodger brand to fans around the globe (and those who arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even fans yet), which is important to us organizationally.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Major League Baseball is also watching. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They were very supportive,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Rawitch. Ã¢â‚¬ÂPat Courtney, Vice President of Communications at Major League Baseball, basically said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœGood for youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦let us know how it goes.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d imagine theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to keep an eye on this, as itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a topic weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve all talked about regularly at our annual PR meetings for a couple of years now and this is part of the natural progression.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. There’s no question that some type of access would enhance RN’s ability to bring you the most interesting coverage of the Reds possible, and would definitely make the podcasts even more fun.
We won’t be requesting credentials from the Reds, however. We’re just going to keep talking about the Reds and operating a responsible outlet for connecting with Reds fans from around the world. We’ll leave the press box to the pros, John Fay and Mark Sheldon.
After all, we like cheering for the Reds too much.